On May 16, Joseph Elligson of Roanoke posited that those opposed to the natural gas pipelines obstruct economic contributions from manufacturing (“No proposed alternatives”). What specific business is actually building new or expanded manufacturing to use this gas? Please prove the need, that current infrastructure is inadequate, the new infrastructure will be fully used for its entire lifecycle, and that it will not harm the environment or health.
Only Franklin County expects new access to natural gas but where are specific plans for new industry or residential distribution? Because Buckingham County has had gas transmission without local use for more than 50 years, I am skeptical.
Eminent domain is intended for projects that provide public benefit, not private profits. We’ve heard many grandiose benefit projections but seen no proof any will materialize. Given global markets, it appears that the gas will be exported, increasing currently low U.S. prices.
Pipeline supporters should be willing to pay costs of:
n additional federal taxes to finally allow the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to do its congressionally mandated job;
n rescinding instructions that save taxes but result in lower safety standards and pipeline oversight in rural areas than in urban;
n implementing safety rules passed by Congress in 2011, replacing essentially industry self-regulation under rules made long before large (42-inch) high pressure pipelines and fracking existed;
n ensuring if the water supply is hurt it is permanently replaced without unreasonable denials or court challenges;
n annual payments to landowners (not just a one-time easement payment), payment of annual property tax on land used, insurance to protect the landowner if anything goes wrong, and prompt removal of unused infrastructure from the property;
n thorough review of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) rules and processes, requiring fair landowner treatment and respect for landowner heritage and use of their land;
n conducting robust health and environmental testing before construction;
n vigilantly monitoring all potentially harmful emissions;
n telling no one “You can afford the pollution;”
n guaranteeing lifetime care and compensation when health is damaged.
Until major changes are made, pipeline supporters dare not make trite NIMBY complaints or accuse opponents of obstructing economic progress.